Ethiopia, Hope for Justice’s biggest single country programme in terms of number of staff and beneficiaries, has seen its ranking rise in the U.S. Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report 2023.
Ethiopia escaped the Tier 2 Watchlist to become a Tier 2 country, meaning its Government “does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so”.
Ethiopia Country Director for Hope for Justice, Dereje Zeleke (pictured), commented: “The fact that Ethiopia moved from Tier 2 Watchlist to Tier 2 is positive progress. It indicates that the Government of Ethiopia has demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared to past years. The Government has shown improvement in terms of service provision for victims of trafficking by jointly operating migration response centres in recent conflict areas of the country. Furthermore, the Government has established effective and collaborative efforts in ending human trafficking through strong partnership with civil society organisations.
“If the issue persevered and the country had been moved down to Tier 3, it would have been even more difficult for actors including civil society organisation to partake in any interventions due to the severity of the problem, which would have resulted in further crisis in Ethiopia. Hope for Justice is committed to support the Government of Ethiopia to prevent human trafficking and to improve service provisions for victims of trafficking.”
The TIP Report’s section on Ethiopia highlighted a few activities that contributed to the improvement in its tier ranking: “These efforts included investigating officials allegedly complicit in potential trafficking crimes; updating the government’s SOPs for victim identification; finalizing a robust NRM, including a service provider directory to refer identified victims to protection services; and increasing efforts to provide protection services to and prevent trafficking among Ethiopian migrants returning from work in Gulf states.”
But it added: “The Government continued to rely on civil society organizations to provide most victim services, but it did not provide sufficient in-kind or financial support to these efforts.”
Giving an overview of the trafficking situation in the country that is consistent with Hope for Justice’s own on-the-ground experiences, the TIP Report authors note: “Human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Ethiopia, and traffickers exploit victims from Ethiopia abroad. Traffickers exploit women and girls from Ethiopia in domestic servitude and sex trafficking throughout the country and boys and men in labor trafficking in traditional weaving, construction, agriculture, forced begging, and street vending. Brothel owners exploit girls in sex trafficking in Addis Ababa’s central market. Labor recruiters frequently target young people from Ethiopia’s vast rural areas with false promises of a better life in urban areas; in some cases, traffickers replicate legitimate app-based recruitment tools to fraudulently recruit vulnerable populations and exploit them in forced labor.”
Uganda, Hope for Justice’s second-biggest country in terms of operational activity, maintained the Tier 2 ranking that it achieved last year. The majority of countries in the TIP Report’s Africa region (which excludes North Africa) are in the Tier 2 category: